The Turkish Interior Ministry's Directorate General of Migration (DGMM) has announced that 45 refugees have been dispatched to repatriation centers to be deported over videos of them eating bananas.
“We have determined 45 foreigners who shared the relevant provocative posts; these people have been dispatched to repatriation centers to be deported following the judiciary procedures. Forty-five foreigners whose procedures are ongoing are still held under administrative detention in repatriation centers,” the DGMM said in a written statement on Nov. 12.
Last month, some Syrians released videos of themselves eating bananas in reference to a street interview where a citizen said that he couldn't afford to buy bananas, but that Syrian residents could afford it "in bulk."
"I can't afford bananas, but Syrians buy them in kilograms," the Turkish national was heard saying in the interview.
Syrians gave an answer to the Turkish national's remarks by posting humorous videos, which led to their detention and being placed at repatriation centers.
Since then rights groups have been warning that Syrians' deportation would expose them to extremely serious and probably deadly reprisals at the hands of the Syrian authorities.
The DGMM's Nov. 12-dated statement came after Mehmet Sinan Yıldız, deputy director of the directorate, earlier this week said that Turkey had not deported any of the Syrians over the relevant videos.
During a meeting of the Turkish parliament's Migration and Adaptation Sub-Commission on Nov. 10, Yıldız did not give a clear answer to opposition lawmakers' inquiry about the state of the Syrians in question, simply saying: “There is no [Syrian] who has been deported [over the vidoes].”
Yıldız's comments led people to think that Turkey was not planning on deporting the refugees, but the DGMM said that the deportation procedures were very much intact.
The DGMM said that Yıldız's verbal answer had been "left half-finished" and “had been reflected to the public in a wrong way.”